People who sit at a desk all day for their work tend to have continuing issues with posture related injuries or irritations. When we are stuck in a position for long lengths of time, different muscles will be overworked and can lead to postural stress injuries. This applies in a majority to those who sit all day at work, but can also include those who stand in the same position all day. Movement is best in this instance; in this blog, we will highlight different posture changes and tweaks you can try at your workstation to improve your posture, avoid overworking muscles, and keep yourself out of pain!
To create the best computer workstation for yourself, it is helpful to understand the concept of neutral body positioning. This is a comfortable working posture in which your joints are aligned and there is no exaggerated or excess stress on one joint(s) over the others. Working with the body in this neutral position reduces the stress and strain on the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and skeletal system which reduces your risk of developing an overuse injury.
The following are important joints to consider when attempting to create and maintain a neutral body position at your computer workstation:
- Hands, wrists, and forearms are straight, in-line and roughly parallel to the floor.
- Head is level, forward facing, and balanced. Generally it is in line with the torso.
- Shoulders are relaxed and upper arms hang normally at the sides of the body.
- Elbows stay close in to the body and are bent between 90-120 degrees.
- Back is fully supported with appropriate lumbar support when sitting vertical or leaning back slightly.
- Thighs and hips are supported and generally parallel to the floor.
- Knees are about the same height as the hips with feet slightly forward.
- Feet are fully supported by the floor or footrest.
You may have heard the common quote that “sitting is the new smoking,” while this is correct to an extent; it is more accurate to say that staying stuck in the same posture for an extended period of time is the new smoking. The new recommendations mention that every 25-30 minutes you should change your position or posture. This can include many small changes that result in less time being stuck in one position. This may include changes such as:
- Switching between sitting straight to sitting with a pillow between your low back and the chair.
- Changing between a leaning back position to leaning side-to-side.
- Changing from sitting to standing, with a compatible work table or separate computer stand.
- Changing foot positioning when standing, such as going from stacked joint, to a staggered position, to a wider leg stance, etc.
- Having a stool to go from full siting in a supported chair to leaning on the stool to support a smaller portion of your body weight.
Remember that movement is best when it comes to work station posture, keep changing up your position and let the change become your routine!